Think you can indulge a little because you've started a new workout regimen?
"You can wipe out a workout with a glass of milk and a piece of pie," says Joe Donnelly, director of the Center for Physical Activity and Weight Management at Kansas University.
As new exercisers hit the gyms with New Year's resolutions in tow, weight-loss experts say they need to remember that it takes a lot of work to burn off the calories ingested with many foods.
Take, for instance, that extra slice of cherry pie you had with Christmas dinner. It would take a 155-pound person 54 minutes of moderate running to burn the 486 calories in the pie.
Or how about that McDonald's Big Mac you had instead of a leftover turkey sandwich? It would take that same 155-pound person slightly more than an hour of moderate bicycling to burn the 563 calories in the burger.
Exercise is good for maintaining weight, but a food/exercise combination is necessary for losing weight.
And eating unhealthy food still can lead to other health problems. One study, Donnelly says, showed that serious runners who ate high-fat diets still had high blood-lipid content.
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"Exercise is not a cure-all," Donnelly says. "People who exercise have health benefits that should not be undersold, but it shouldn't be oversold, either. It's not going to cure cancer, and it's not going to cure the common cold."
Brian Tabor, a personal trainer at Lawrence Athletic Club, 3201 Mesa Way, says people who exercise sometimes get careless when it comes to their diets.
"It's almost shocking how people have very little knowledge about food," he says.
Tabor says he recommends clients find a way to shave 3,500 calories during the course of a week to lose one to two pounds. That usually is a combination of diet and exercise.
With a typical 45-minute workout burning around 400 calories, even exercising five times a week means you'll need to cut calories from your diet.
Tabor recommends keeping a journal of what foods you eat for a few days to get a sense of how many calories you're eating.
"The journal is pretty much the best way, even if it's just writing down what you eat and estimating the calories later," he says. "I think people know (they're eating bad foods), but they don't think about it. So it's kind of like a convenience thing. People will go to what's readily available and around them. They don't think about nutrition. It's what tastes good and fills me up, rather than what's good for my body."
Get the numbers
Looking to figure out how many calories you're eating, or how many you've burned in a workout?
Several Web sites provide food-calorie information, including www.usda.gov, www.nutritiondata.com and www.calorie-counter.net. Web sites that provide estimates for how much you've worked out include www.nutristrategy.com, www.caloriesperhour.com, www.healthstatus.com and www.internetfitness.com.
Notes: Amount of calories burned were an average of estimates posted on five Web sites (www.nutristrategy.com, www.caloriecontrol.com, www.caloriesperhour.com, www.healthstatus.com, www.internetfitness.com). "Bicycling" is at a moderate rate (approximately 12 mph), and "running" is at a pace of approximately nine-minute miles. Sources of food calorie content were www.usda.gov, www.bk.com, www.coca-cola.com.